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Ex-Consolacion mayor, officials acquitted in graft case

By: Kathleen de Villa - | February 17,2024 - 09:17 AM



The antigraft court on Friday acquitted former Consolacion, Cebu Mayor Avelino Gungob Sr. and six other municipal officers of graft charges related to the purchase of organic fertilizers nearly 19 years ago whose prices were purportedly jacked up by 733 percent.

In a Feb. 16 decision, the Sandiganbayan’s fifth division cited insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, stating that the prosecution’s documentation didn’t sufficiently prove overpricing.

The court stressed that the prosecution bears the “onus probandi,” or the burden of proof, to establish guilt among the accused.

READ MORE: Former Consolacion town mayor, 7 others face illegal mining charges

Acquitted were Gungob and his coaccused municipal treasurer Rosalina Maglasang, municipal engineer Carlito Maglasang, municipal agriculturist Evangeline Puao, social welfare officer Florisa Bagasbas, municipal assessor Marilou Herrera, and bids and awards committee member Siegfried Cataluña.

Also cleared from graft was Marilyn Castillo, owner of MM Castillo General Merchandise, which was the winning bidder for the supply of 166 bottles of liquid fertilizers worth P249,000 to the local government of Consolacion in 2005.

Citing a Commission on Audit Report, the prosecution asserted that the cost of fertilizers should have been only P180 per bottle, leading to an excessive price of P219,210 for 166 bottles.

The antigraft court noted that the prosecution was not able to present a signed price quotation or canvass sheet that could have backed its accusation of bumping up the procurement cost.

“The allegation of overpricing was not proved, to the point of moral certainty, to have amounted to undue injury to the government,” read the decision, which was penned by Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, who chairs the division.

It was concurred by Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.


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TAGS: Cebu province, Consolacion, graft, Sandiganbayan

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